Episode 248

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GLENN’S NOTEBOOK

2nd Gen Intel Core MacBook Air released from $1,099

Apple today announced its new revamped MacBook Air range with second-gen Intel Core CPUs, on order from today and available in store tomorrow.

Apple is claiming an up-to-2.5X performance boost, now rendering the Air more suitable for more high-end tasks like photo and video editing

In addition to the new CPU and the inclusion of Lion, the other notable upgrades are Thunderbolt I/O connectivity (which will pair nicely with Apple’s also-announced-today Thunderbolt-equipped display, to be available in two months) and a backlit keyboard.

Prices for the new MacBook Air range start at $1,099 ($100 cheaper than the previous entry-level model) with an 11.6-inch display, 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD, and top out at $1,799 for a 13.3-inch display, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD.

The MacMini has been upgraded to also have Intel i5 and i7 dual core processors, improved graphics, a Thunderbolt port and Lion and will cost from $699 to $1099 for off-the-shelf models.

Apple pounces with $31.99 Mac OS X Lion, the cheapest Mac OS ever?

Delayed by a week due to suspected last-minute bugs with its Resume feature, Apple today has releasedMac OS X 10.7 Lion for download at the bargain price of $31.99.

The eighth version of Mac OS X ships with some 250 new features, the most notable of which are new Multi-Touch gestures (pinch, tap, swipe etc.), full-screen apps support (previously not natively supported), Mission Control (a bird’s eye view of what’s running on your Mac), Launchpad (an iOS-like app launcher), Resume (which resumes reloaded apps right where you left them), Auto Save (not needing to manually save changes… ever) and AirDrop (wireless file sharing sans a common Wi-Fi network).

$31.99 pricetag can be reduced even further by utilising two-for-$30 iTunes card discount deals currently available at retailers including Target, Big W and Myer (eg. 2 x $20 cards for $30

Upgraders willing to hold out until late August will be able to purchase Lion on a USB thumb drive for $75

Download only at present via app online store

Apple should consider share buyback, or dividend, investor says

APPLE has built up a $US76.2 billion ($70.82bn) cash hoard.

That’s more than the gross domestic product of 126 countries, including nations such as Ecuador, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica, according to data from the World Bank.

The gigantic sum yesterday prompted some investors to call for it to use some of the cash for dividend payouts. “If they can’t find ways to use it to grow, they should be returning it to shareholders,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management, which owns Apple stock.

Microsoft, for example, has built up its cash levels to $US60.9bn, including equity and others investments as of March. Google has $US39.1bn and Cisco Systems, $US43.4bn.

Its shares leapt to a high of $US405 ($A378)

‘Cat-nav’ to study pet behaviour outside the home



Scientists have been using special miniature cameras and a GPS system, nicknamed cat-nav, to learn more about the behaviour of cats.
The new study reveals what our pets really get up to when they go out on their own. Cat owner Jim Fowler tells BBC News it was interesting to see where his pet travelled to.

Lulz Security hackers target Sun website


At first, readers were redirected to a hoax story which said Rupert Murdoch had been found dead in his garden.

Visitors to the Sun website were then redirected to the group’s Twitter page, before News International took it down.

Google+ iPhone app now available

The official Google+ iPhone app is now available. The app is available as a free download [iTunes link] from the App Store.

Here’s a list of the app’s features, along with their descriptions.

— Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.

— Stream is where you can get updates from your circles or see what people are saying about things nearby.

— Huddle is super-fast group messaging for everyone in your

it’s buggy. The app doesn’t work on iOS 5 beta 3 –


Gates Foundation: ‘We need to reinvent the toilet’


http://www.gatesfoundation.org/watersanitationhygiene/Documents/wsh-reinvent-the-toilet-challenge.pdf

The foundation announced $41.5 million worth of grants on Tuesday aimed at getting someone to reengineer the flushing porcelain pot, which has been in use since the 1700s.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/watersanitationhygiene/Documents/wsh-reinvent-the-toilet-challenge.pdf

1. A toilet that produces biological charcoal,
minerals, and clean water

2. Turning the toilet into an electricity generator
for local use

7. A solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen
and electricity for local use


World Cup final sets two Twitter records


http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/social.media/07/18/world.cup.twitter.record.mashable/index.html?eref=edition_technology&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fedition_technology+%28RSS%3A+Technology%29

The FIFA Women’s World Cup set two new records for number of tweets sent per second on Sunday.

The final game, between USA and Japan, set the new all-time high with 7,196 per second at the end of the game


iPhone 4 survives fall from skydiver’s pocket



http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/07/18/iphone.skydive/index.html?eref=edition_technology&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fedition_technology+%28RSS%3A+Technology%29

 

Erik’s Notebook

Apple profits up 124% year-on-year after record iPhone sales

Steve Jobs unveils $7bn profit in second-quarter results amid hints the next version of iPhone will be released in September


Apple’s Steve Jobs announced a record quarter on the back of iPhone sales, which reached 20.34m, more than double the number sold last year. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Apple has delighted its shareholders by racking up another record quarter, strengthened by strong sales of its iPhones, iPads and record sales of its Mac computers. It also hinted that the next version of the iPhone would be released in September, alluding to a “future product transition” then.
The firm’s revenues were $28.57bn, up 90% year-on-year, and profits $7.31bn, up 124%, as it sold 20.34m iPhones – more than double the number sold last year, ahead of the release of the iPhone 4 – and 9.25m iPads, almost triple the number sold during its debut quarter in 2010. “We’re thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever,” said Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, on Tuesday.
The company’s stock surged by $23.22, or 6.2%, to break $400 for the first time, and bringing it closer to being the most valuable company in the world by market capitalisation.
As the figures were released, the Wall Street Journal reported that some members of Apple’s board have been talking to executive recruiters about finding a successor to co-founder and chief executive Jobs, who has been on extended medical leave from the company since January, while remaining as CEO.
The WSJ report, written by people familiar with the thinking of the company’s topmost executives, says the board had approached the head of another “high-profile” technology company, apparently for informal soundings. Jobs told the WSJ he thought the idea was “hogwash”.
He is taking his second extended leave in two years, and while neither Apple nor Jobs has announced the specific reason, it is believed to be due to complications arising from the neuroendocrine cancer diagnosed in 2003.
Aside from the WSJ story, which could cause discord in Apple’s ranks, the company received more good news when it emerged that the Canadian government would not review the sales of $4.5bn of patents from the bankrupt communications company Nortel. Apple was in a consortium of successful bidders, along with Microsoft, for patents covering a number of mobile phone technologies against Google, whose Android mobile operating software has taken the largest share of the smartphone market.
Sales of the iPhone, in its best-ever quarter, mean that Apple will almost certainly have passed the formerly dominant Nokia to become the second-largest seller of smartphones in the world, behind Samsung. Nokia is expected to report a loss for the quarter when it reports on Thursday.
“Apple could overtake LG by the next quarter and become the third largest mobile phone vendor worldwide,” said Carolina Milanesi, smartphone analyst at the research company Gartner. She estimated Apple could have sold 10m iPads in the quarter but for a fire at the Foxconn factory, which lost roughly 1m units.
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, said 57% of global Fortune 500 companies were either using or testing iPhones due to customer demands, and that 47% of them were testing the iPad tablet. He said there was a “future product transition that we’re not going to talk about today” coming in the September quarter – the inference is that it will be an update to the iPhone line.
Tim Cook, the chief operating officer who has been running the company in Jobs’s absence, said that “we sold every iPad we could make”.
The company will on Wednesday release the next version of its OSX operating system, called Lion, which it will deliver directly from its online store.
Analyst consensus ahead of the forecasts were that it would post $24.92bn in revenues and earnings of $5.5bn. After a quiet quarter, Apple’s shares have ramped up in the past week, closing on Monday at an all-time high of $373.80 despite the absence of Jobs.
The expectation had also been that it would sell between 15m and 20m iPhones, between 7.2m and 9m iPads, and 4m Macs. Sales of the iPod, the music player that propelled Apple’s successful comeback following its launch in October 2001, have continued to decline, a trend that began in 2009.
The record sales of its Macintosh computers, while small in the context of the wider PC market, showed 15% year-on-year growth – the 21st quarter in a row they have grown faster than the broad market, which grew by just 2% in the same period. However, the growth in computer sales was the lowest the company had seen in two years.


Pacific Fibre signs up undersea cable supplier

TE SubCom cordage to link Sydney, Auckland, Los Angeles
By Natalie Apostolou • Get more from this author

Posted in Business, 18th July 2011 20:00 GMT
Free whitepaper – The Cloud and US Cross‐Border Risks Roundtable
Pacific Fibre has awarded TE SubCom, formerly Tyco Telecommunications, with the supply contract for its undersea cable system.

The two-cable, 12,750km-long cable system will link Australia and New Zealand via a trans-Tasman cable, while connecting New Zealand to the United States via a trans-Pacific cable. The cable landing points will be in Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; and Los Angeles in the US.

“The Pacific Fibre cable will not only provide unsurpassed high speed international connectivity to satisfy the growth in broadband demand, but it will also help Australia and New Zealand realise the potential of both countries’ multi-billion dollar broadband initiatives,” said Pacific Fibre CEO Mark Rushworth.

The project will compete directly with Southern Cross Cable Networks and is set to meet the skyrocketing demand for international bandwidth in Australia and New Zealand, which has been growing at a rate of 55 per cent per year. Last week Pacific Fibre announced that it had revised the contract from its foundation customer REANNZ for the supply of international capacity valued at NZ$91m.

The project’s launch is planned for the first quarter of 2014. ®


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/18/pacfibre_awards_tender/

Netflix in talks for local tie-ups: its entry will cause ripples among players such as T-Box, Foxtel and FetchTV
US movie-streaming giant Netflix is holding talks with internet service providers with a view to setting up shop locally over the next 12 months.

Sources said Netflix had been speaking with potential partners in the hopes of creating alliances in Australia.

In some instances, potential partners were told Netflix hoped to begin operations in the next 12 to 18 months.

The move comes as no surprise, say industry experts, who point to the government’s $36 billion National Broadband Network as a key reason for such an investment.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has previously hinted at expanding the service outside North America to include Asia and Europe.

Netflix’s US-based spokesman, Steve Swasey, declined to comment on any Australian expansion plans.

“Netflix will launch in Latin America later this year. We have not said anything about other international plans after that,” Mr Swasey said.

Netflix will launch in Latin America and the Caribbean later this year.

Netflix’s entry will cause ripples among internet television (IPTV) players such as Telstra’s T-Box, Foxtel and FetchTV.

It is understood that Netflix is particularly interested in the FetchTV model of partnering with ISPs.

FetchTV counts iiNet, Internode, Westnet, Adam Internet and Optus as partners.

With Internode, for example, customers pay $399 for the FetchTV set-top box and a subscription that starts at $5.95.

Its premium FetchTV package includes 30 movies per month.

Bandwidth-hungry users can rest assured that they will not be penalised on FetchTV, according to Heidi Angove, Internode content acquisition manager.

“The size of shows consumed by Internode-FetchTV customers does not matter as the movies are unmetered,” Ms Angove said.

She declined to comment on Netflix’s plan, but said: “We’re confident that FetchTV will run a good race.”

Ms Angove, who has been in the IPTV business since 2004, said momentum was gaining across the industry as people were looking at alternative ways to consume content, especially video.

Traditional DVD rental player Quickflix said it remained committed to its existing model, but conceded that movie streaming was growing.

Quickflix founder and executive chairman Stephen Langsford said while the company was in discussions with “lots of people” on video streaming, its main competition was from physical rental stores, not online.

“DVD retailing and rental today is close to a $2 billion business in Australia (and) streaming is utterly tiny, but it will grow over the course of the next decade,” Mr Langsford said.

Quickflix, under new chief executive Chris Taylor, has signed its first distribution deal with Sony Australia to stream movies some time this year on its internet-connected TVs and Vaio computers.

Earlier this month, Quickflix entered a deal to buy the online library and 40,000-strong subscriber base of Telstra’s BigPond Movies.

Nine Entertainment recently signed a heads of agreement to form a joint venture with US video-streaming website Hulu.

Nine is keen to develop the joint venture but needs to keep digital partner Microsoft on side. Nine would also have to win over at least one other rival free-to-air broadcaster, with Seven and Ten said to be unconvinced at this stage.

Christophe Bur, who runs the media and entertainment practice at consultancy Capgemini Australia, said video had always been the “anchor tenant” for the NBN and that it was no surprise that players such as Netflix would be interested in the local market.

“It’s just a matter of time before they all come in,” Mr Bur said.

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: JAMES CHESSELL

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/netflix-in-talks-for-local-tie-ups-its-entry-will-cause-ripples-among-players-such-as-t-box-foxtel-and-fetchtv/story-e6frgakx-1226097122717


‘Better, faster, stronger’ Vodafone not so hot for some


“Better, faster, stronger than before.”
That’s what Vodafone says of its mobile network in advertising material on billboards and its website.
It comes about eight months after customers began to notice something wasn’t quite right and when they started to post their problems with the network to the online broadband forum Whirlpool.
Problems included thousands experiencing dropped calls, reception issues and poor data performance.
But, according to the Australian blog Lifehacker, which recently tested the telco’s network in an area that Vodafone said it had upgraded, the network still isn’t up to scratch. Editor Angus Kidman said network improvements didn’t “seem to be making much difference”.
At first, the company blamed software as the cause of two separate issues that caused slow 3G data transfer.
But customers continued to complain of poor performance, leading the telco to apologise in February this year and announce it would bring forward an upgrade of its network, adding 1500 base stations over 12 months to cope with a sharp increase in data use.
Amid the customer outcry, a class action suit was proposed, which now has more than 20,000 applicants, and Vodafail.com was formed, a site dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction with the carrier.
Thousands of customers – reaching about 100,000 a month – have churned away to another provider.
A music video was even created, chastising the telco for the network problems.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/better-faster-stronger-vodafone-not-so-hot-for-some-20110720-1hnws.html#ixzz1Sd8byfJ6


TPG ups quotas, standardises shaping


TPG has increased the monthly usage quota on its stand-alone ADSL2+ plans, and has standardised shaping speeds for when quotas are exceeded.
The internet service provider announced the new plans yesterday, which increase quotas, but also sees users that exceed them limited to 256Kbps.
TPG’s former $49.99 plan had a 200GB quota, which could be used at any time of the day, with speeds shaped to 1Mbps if the quota was exceeded. This plan now gives users 500GB, but that limit is divided equally into two 250GB peak (8:30am to 2:30am) and off-peak (2:30am to 8:30am) periods. The shaping speed has also decreased from 1Mbps.
It’s worth noting that under the new 500GB plan, if users decide to bundle their home phone into the plan, the price is the same as TPG’s unlimited plan at $59.99. Additionally, TPG’s unlimited plan is the same price irrespective of whether users’ line rental is bundled or not.
TPG’s new $39.99 plan has also seen its 60GB (30GB peak, 30GB off-peak) quota increased to 150GB (75GB peak, 75GB off-peak). The shaping speed for the plan remains the same at 256Kbps.
Similarly, its cheapest $29.99 plan has seen its 15GB (5GB peak, 10GB off-peak) quota increased to 50GB (25GB peak, 25GB off-peak), but its shaping speed has increased to 256Kbps from 128Kbps.
Uploaded data previously counted towards quotas, but TPG in recent weeks has removed this limitation and now only counts downloaded data in users’ quotas.

WILL’S NOTEBOOK

Terrafugia Transition flying car cleared for landing in US, next stop – Europe | Information,
A FLYING car retailing for $227,000 could be on roads in a matter of months – and customers are already lining up to be the first to get their hands on one, its maker claims.
Just over a week ago, the Terrafugia Transition passed a significant milestone when it was cleared for takeoff by the US National Highway Safety Administration.
It’s taken Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich just five years to realise his dream, with some media outlets reporting that the Transition could now be on US roads by the end of next year.
Last year, the project was headed for trouble after authorities demanded design changes costing Terrafugia somewhere in the order of $18 million.
Fortunately, Mr Dietrich’s company then won a $60 million contract with the US Defence Department to develop a flying Humvee.
Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

Despite the fact the price of a single vehicle has been pushed to about $230,000 from the starting order price of $170,000, up to 100 customers have already paid a $10,000 deposit for a Transition.
The next stage for Terrafugia is global domination, with the first stop outside the US being Europe.
The Civil Aviation Authority told the UK’s Daily Mail that the US clearance meant it would be “relatively easy” for the Transition to get clearance from the European Safety Agency, based in Cologne.
“The bulk of the work has already been done in the US,” Jonathan Nicholson, of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, said.
“Safety standards are very similar between there and Europe.”
Terrafugia says more than 20 Britons have already expressed interest in owning a Transition.
The two-seat plane is made of carbon-fibre and aimed primarily at the US’s 600-strong “fly-in” communities.
It can lift off from almost any long straight road and once in the air, has a top speed of 185km/h.
On landing, its wings fold up in 15 seconds, with power then routed to the rear wheels, giving it a top land speed of 100km/h and size dimensions equivalent to a large sedan.
“It’s like a little Transformer,” Mr Dietrich said.
The Transition will be available to those with a light-aircraft licence and requires as little as 20 hours’ training to fly.


Optus turns 3G phones into free-to-air PVRs – Communications – News – ZDNet Australia
Watching TV these days takes a lot of forward thinking. Not only do you have to know what you want to watch and when it’s on, but you also have to pray that you can make time in your busy work/life balance to slot some boob tube time in.
Connecting a PVR to your TV can help you to catch up on shows when you have a spare moment, but what if your spare moments tend to happen when you are away from your living room?
Optus thinks it has the answer. Launching its new TV Now service today, Optus effectively turned 3G phones on the Optus network into portable PVRs for free-to-air TV broadcasts. Customers jump on their phones or PCs to browse and find the shows they want, and then schedule the recording, which takes place back at planet Optus. When you find that window of spare time, you stream the recorded program to your handset or on any computer. Optus assures us that this streaming will be entirely unmetered, so it won’t count against your data usage for the month.
The service is free for all Optus customers with compatible handsets, with everyone getting a standard 45 minutes of recording space each month as part of their plans. You can continually delete old shows and record new ones to this space, or you can leave the recordings to delete automatically after 30 days. If you feel like recording more frequently, you can choose to upgrade the service for AU$6.99 per month for five hours of storage or AU$9.99 per month for 20 hours.


Hacked SBS links to risky content – Security – News – ZDNet Australia
The website of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has been victim of a hacking attack over the weekend, with users visiting the site exposed to malware.
The Sydney Morning Herald picked up on the incident after Australian Reddit readers noticed that their browsers were warning them that SBS’s news website was a reported attack page.
SBS confirmed the attack in a statement, saying that over the past two days, a malicious user was able to enter its website and insert a link to a malware site.
“Users who may have inadvertently visited this third-party malware site could then have had their machines infected with a virus, depending on their security settings,” it said in a statement.
“SBS would like to apologise to any of our site users who may have been affected by a virus.”
While the problem has now been rectified, SBS is carrying out an investigation to examine how it occurred, and how it can prevent similar issues in the future.
While SBS claims that this is the first time that the website has been the victim of any sort of attack, it has been listed by Google for suspicious activity three times in the past 90 days.
The incident comes just after it was revealed that News Corporation also had malware planted in its Herald Sun and The Weekly Times websites last week.


Google buys g.co domain – Software – News – ZDNet Australia
Google has bought the g.co domain, which will enable it to have a shorter web address for Google products and services.
“The shorter a URL, the easier it is to share and remember. The downside is, you often can’t tell what website you’re going to be redirected to,” Gary Briggs, vice president of consumer marketing at Google, wrote in a blog post.
“We’ll only use g.co to send you to web pages that are owned by Google, and only we can create g.co shortcuts. That means you can visit a g.co shortcut confident you will always end up at a page for a Google product or service.”
The move fits nicely with the URL-shortening infrastructure that Google had already built with goog.li, which allows people to shorten any web address.
It’s unknown how much Google paid for the “.co” domain name, which is the top-level domain of Colombia, but is available to companies. Juan Diego Calle, the Colombian entrepreneur who runs .CO internet and operates the .co domain for Colombia, told Reuters: “After Amazon, and after a few of the other deals that we’ve done over the past few months, the price of one character is already north of US$1.5 million.”


Scientists crack code on Thomas Edison’s 123-year-old attempt at creating a recording star |
SCIENTISTS have recovered a 123-year-old recording made by Thomas Edison that is believed to be the world’s first attempt at a talking doll.
In the sound recording that may mark the dawn of the American recording industry, a woman can be heard reciting a verse of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
Historians believe Edison hired the woman to make the recording less than two years before he unsuccessfully put the first talking doll on the market.
Listen to the Thomas Edison recording
“Based on the date of fall 1888, it is the oldest American-made recording of a woman’s voice that we can listen to today,” Patrick Feaster, a historian at Indiana University in Bloomington, said.
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Mr Feaster pored over historical documents and 19th-century newspaper reports to piece together the story behind the recording.
Edison hoped to mass-produce the toys, but the era’s rudimentary technology meant that to make 100 dolls, Edison would have to get artists to recite the lullaby 100 times.
“They must have been hired and paid to do this,” Mr Feaster said. “These were presumably the first professional recording artists.”
The small piece of ring-shaped tin bearing the woman’s voice never made it into a doll because wax records replaced metal ones by 1890, when Edison started selling his first talking dolls.
Those fragile and easily broken toys were a market flop.
Yet almost 80 years after the mystery woman lent her voice to Edison, the recording showed up in 1967 in the archives of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, having been recovered from a secretary’s desk drawer in Edison’s laboratory.
“It was clear from looking under the microscope that it had a sound recording on it,” Jerry Fabris, a museum curator with the National Park Service, said.
“Phonograph grooves have a familiar shape.”
But the metal ring – about 4cm around and 1.2cm wide – was so bent and damaged that scientists couldn’t play it.
More than four decades later, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, used image analysis in May to create a digital model of the record’s surface.
That model was then used to reproduce the recording as a digital file, not unlike the modern technology behind the voice that emerges from today’s talking dolls.


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